Starting a small business after college wasn’t part of the original plan for Riley Kiltz and Collin Sansom, founders of Craftwork Coffee Co.
The duo opened their coffee shop-workspace hybrid in late January on Fort Worth’s historic Camp Bowie Boulevard.
By fusing their skills as businessmen and coffee connoisseurs, they created a lively workspace fueled by community engagement and well-crafted coffee.
“The heart behind Craftwork is to provide a comfortable workspace that also allows people to connect with each other,” Kiltz said. “It’s about getting people out of isolation and into community.”
Kiltz said he began working in international investment consulting after graduating from TCU. He said his job demanded more time working on the road than from an office.
The TCU grad said after catching up with colleagues he graduated with, he noticed a trend of people working more remotely.
“It seemed the concern of where you were working became less important to what you were working on or who you were working with,” Kiltz said. “It didn’t seem to matter if you were working for a small firm or a Fortune 500 company.”
He said when he needed to meet with clients, he would report to an office that fit the standard for corporate workspaces.
“It was soul-crushing to walk into an environment of 50-something offices, where you would rarely come into contact with the people working alongside you,” he said. “This didn’t feel right to me.”
He said working people should no longer have to settle for traveling long distances to a mundane office, only to be isolated from fellow co-workers.
“This is when Collin and I began toying with the idea of what it would look like for someone to solve this workspace need,” Kiltz said. “Where we can have the accessibility of a home office, the control of a suite and be in community.”
Coffee at the center
When breaking ground on the location which formerly housed an auto mechanic shop, psychic and real estate office, the duo considered what would bring energy to their workspace solution.
They chose coffee.
“One thing Craftwork does that’s very unique is its ability to draw people in through coffee. Coffee is a common denominator for a lot of people,” Kiltz said. “It has the power of getting people to familiarize with a space prior to stepping into it.”
Kiltz said when mapping out the floor plan, he and Sansom strategically placed the coffee bar in the center.
“This allows the workspace to revolve around that energy and life,” Kiltz said.
The coffee shop serves more than just a brew. It includes dedicated areas where customers can work on their craft in open spaces or reserved office suites.
Kiltz and Sansom partnered with a local architecture company, 97w, to put the space together.
“Collin and I had the inspiration behind the space, but this design is very much the work of their hands,” Kiltz said.
Down to the aesthetic details of the space, Kiltz and Sansom said they wanted to create an open-air environment that would allow sound to travel throughout the space.
One way they did this was by working with local business, PalletSmart, to create a wood slat wall that was modeled off of one in the Guarulhos airport in Brazil.
Kiltz said the wall in the airport is used to break up the space but allow sound to travel through. In the shop, the wall rests between the workspace suites and coffee shop tables.
“You don’t have to rely on music to activate your workspace,” he said. “The wall allows us to do it with people and conversations.”
Craftwork offers three workspace memberships: social, solo and team. The memberships range from $150 to $900 per month.
The social membership serves as the most basic and caters toward people who may have an office or home office, but are looking for an area to step away “to breathe” or meet with clients.
He said the suites are a place people are able to land that’s professional, but also life-giving.
“I would find it difficult to pound out nine or 10 hours of work on a barstool. I hope no one has to do that,” Kiltz said. “That’s what these suites are for.”
Other amenities including cafe discounts, 24-hour access and added storage and office space are included with the solo and team memberships.
Having worked in multiple environments, whether in coffee shops or office environments, Kiltz said he and Sansom considered the different elements of these spaces and what they offered.
He said they hope the concept will suit the t-shirt designer, software developer, photographer and attorney.
Kiltz and Sansom said they want Craftwork Coffee Co. to be a place where people in different industries feel welcome to meet and work.
“We provide a monthly meal to our members so they have an opportunity to connect, instead of feeling as if they’re just working beside each other,” Kiltz said.
He said he and his staff are invested in bringing the best quality to their customers, whether through providing a professional working environment or by bringing the best brew to their cup.
Kiltz said the shop rotates through different roasters in order to introduce people to different ways of roasting coffee.
“In comparison to other cities of our size, I still think there’s a lot of room for good coffee shops to come in,” Kiltz said. “Which means there could be more opportunities for people to learn more about it.”
“Collin and I have traveled all over the country to ‘cup some coffee,’ which is equivalent to a wine tasting, with our roasters,” Kiltz said. “We’ve made a real effort to get to know them as people.”
Craftwork has also partnered with Fort Worth’s Stir Crazy Baked Goods.
Kiltz said the next step for Craftwork Coffee Co. is to refine how their micro-location works and identify other neighborhoods to expand into.
“Our goal is not to just increase an accessible workspace, but a mobile one,” Kiltz said. “Despite the distances we may travel now to meet or work, we see Craftwork as a solution that can help us get more connected.”